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Moloka`i - Seeing Deeply #5

This wonderful week of photography on Moloka`i with new friends was finally coming to an end. However, we still had one treat left — sharing our projects. You'll recall that I mentioned previously that Eddie had assigned us two projects. The first was to photograph one thing multiple times. The second was to photograph the different kinds of light one encounters on Moloka`i. Eddie's instructions were intentionally vague enough that each of us could and did come up with something completely different.

All of us — students and staff — gathered after dinner in the living room of the main building at the Hui and projected each student's photos on a screen. I was amazed that each of us really did capture something unique — in fact, some students really stretched the assignment instructions almost to the breaking point. But that was the delight of it all. Below are my six photos for each project.

Six Views #1: I decided to study a rock. Not just any rock but the Phallic Rock. The name comes from its shape which is, well, you can see for yourself. Of course, like many things in Hawai`i, there is a story behind it.

According to Hawaiian legends, the fertility god, Nanahoa, lived nearby. One day his wife, Kawahuna, caught him admiring a young girl who was staring at her reflection in a pool of water. The wife was outraged and attacked the girl. Nanahoa was equally outraged and struck his wife — she rolled down the cliff and turned into stone. Nanahoa then also turned into stone. The Phallic Rock is Nanahoa — or at least one part of Nanahoa.

Six Views #2: In Hawaiian tradition, a woman who wanted to conceive would come to this spot and present offerings to the rock (Kaule O Nanahoa) as well as praying for fertility. Further, she would spend the night here and return home pregnant.

Women still leave offerings such as this flower lei.

Six Views #3: The rock is large, perhaps six feet tall — and located in the middle of an ironwood forest — a setting which gives it a feeling of spiritual power. Some people have reported spontaneous healing due to Kaule O Nanahoa.


Six Views #4: Another piece I read said that the forest was planted only a few decades ago. Previously, the hilltop was without tall vegetation and the rock could be seen for miles. Further, there is a companion stone a short distance down the hill which is Nanahoa's wife, Kawahuna. And the legend is that as long as the female stone remains nearby, Nanahoa will remain erect.

Six Views #5: I don't really know if there is anything to this mysticism. I did not get pregnant nor did I have any spontaneous cures. But it is an interesting place.

Six Views #6: However, I did have an idea to incorporate Kaule O Nanahoa into my other assigned project, showing the different qualities of light on Moloka`i, specifically moonlight. You can see the results below.

However, I have to admit that it felt a little spooky to come to this spot at night. Fortunately, one of the other students (Dave who went with me on the hike to the waterfall in Halawa Valley) agreed to go with me to assist with some nighttime photography. We invited one of the female students to go with us but she declined (perhaps she didn't want to take a chance that the legends were true).


Moloka`i Light #1: Bright Sunlight. This is the dirt road down to Mo`omomi, the Nature Conservancy preserve. You may recall seeing this photo from an earlier issue of LAHP. And yes, the dirt really is that red. In fact, it was fairly windy that day and I had red dirt on my shoes, socks, shorts, t-shirt and legs. Fortunately, Tom (the owner of the B&B) helped me clean my clothes, soaking them overnight with a special cleaner he uses — followed by a trip to the laundromat in town to finish the job. My shoes remain red and are now reserved for my next, as yet unplanned, trip to Hawai`i.

Moloka`i Light #2: Diffuse Sunlight. When the clouds come out, you get the soft diffuse light as seen in this shot of wildflowers (also shown in a previous issue). There is less contrast which gives a softer feel to the image.

Moloka`i Light #3: Mottled Sunlight. When you are in a forest, with light streaming through the canopy there are bright spots and dark spots and everything in between. It presents a challenge to the photographer to determine what to meter on. This photo from our hike up to the waterfall (yes, it is a repeat too) is a good example.

Moloka`i Light #4: Refracted Sunlight. This image is from my first day on Moloka`i and shows the standing wave that I shared earlier. However, I am experimenting with some new software for preprocessing images before loading them into Photoshop. I liked the original image (click here) but I think I like this one better.

Moloka`i Light #5: Moonlight. Here is the result of that nighttime visit to Kaule O Nanahoa. The photo was taken using only the light from the moon. I had to leave the camera's shutter open for two minutes. I was so delighted with the results, I burst out laughing and Dave came running to see what I had captured — neither one of us could believe it. It looks like daylight but I assure you this was taken at night only using moonlight.

Moloka`i Light #6: Flashlight. Then we began to have some fun. We had a couple of small flashlights (a necessity when using a camera at night — otherwise you cannot see the controls). While I kept the shutter open, Dave "painted" the rock using his flashlight then went behind and outlined the rock with his flashlight pointed toward the camera. Way cool!

And you ask, "where is Dave?" This exposure was about 30 seconds and he kept moving so if you could see him, he would look like a ghost. Fortunately, he didn't stay still for very long in any one spot so he remained invisible to the camera.

Backtracking — the night before the show, someone noticed a moonbow outside. You've never heard of a moonbow? It is the nighttime equivalent of a rainbow — rain refracting the light from a full moon into the colors of the rainbow. Unfortunately, moonlight is so much dimmer than sunlight that to the naked eye, it just looks like a faint band of light — you really cannot distinguish the colors. However, a camera can with a sufficiently slow shutter speed. With a class full of photographers, there were lots of attempts — the most successful was our leader, Eddie's. He shared it with us during the show — and his shot was terrific — much better than this one I found on the Internet. But at least you get the idea.

What a great way to end a super week!

Life is good.

B. David